Sunday, February 8, 2015

Getting Reacquainted With Grace

A rainbow over Grace Community Church
With schools out on Friday, I sent my Melody, my daughter, over to her grandparents for the weekend.  My in-laws love having her, though I think it's sometimes a challenge keeping her occupied.  They're pretty busy with their church.  My father-in-law is the pastor at the First Baptist Church of Damascus, and they always have thing to do, so Melody ends up being put to work.  They are in the midst of a rebuilding project, with major renovations to the front of their church building, and Saturday was spent doing a lot of cleanup inside their sanctuary.  Melody told me last night that she was helping with some painting.  I'm glad she's learning a trade.

I felt like I was on vacation, even though it was pretty much business as usual.  I love my little girl, even though I rarely spend time without her.  I took advantage of the time by getting reacquainted with my church, Grace Community.  I've loved my church, and have attended Grace for almost 12 years.  The support I've received from many of the staff has been so important to my general outlook following the death of my wife Teresa in 2004, in particular folks like Pastors Mark Norman and Tim Siemens.  Mark is an incredible lead Pastor, and his messages have been some of the best I've ever heard.  Adding to the staff in more recent years has only increased the number of great preachers there, including Mitchel Lee and Rich Yauger.

The only frustrating thing for me is where I fit in at this church.  It appears that God keeps opening and closing doors, and I can only trust Him through this process.  In the past, I have found my roles pretty quickly, and they always play to my strengths.  I spent over ten years as a youth counselor at several churches, prior to meeting Teresa, and I had a blast.  It was good for me and I know God used me as He saw fit.  Together, Teresa and I led the drama ministry at Montrose Baptist Church in Rockville, where we attended after marrying, and just before finding ourselves at Grace.  Following her death, it took me awhile to find a ministry at Grace that I could fit into, and through much encouragement, I joined the drama ministry.  Just as I was gaining confidence and enjoying my role, the drama group kind of folded up and I felt a bit aimless again.  I prayed about it quite a bit.  My role as father to my little girl, who was still quite young, took priority, and I just didn't know where I fit in.  God wasn't pushing me in any particular direction, and maybe being Dad was the reason why.

I tried out volunteering in Melody's classroom during the summer several years ago, and quickly realized that I was in the wrong place.  My hat's off to those who do volunteer there every week.  They are truly gifted, and they have my appreciation for giving my girl a wonderful place to learn about God.  But I really wasn't comfortable in there.  It was definitely outside my comfort zone.  I've worked with teens for most of my life, but even my role of father couldn't compare to working with the little kids.  Enter Stephen Namie, the worship director at our church.  He invited me to help out with a video project he was doing for the worship service, and after participating with that, he began using me in other projects, doing readings and videos here and there, and I figured this was where my role would be.  After Stephen's tragic death (so similar to my wife's), I kind of lost my direction again, and I really didn't know where I fit in.

In the last month, I've tried to focus on my daughter and her future.  She has so much talent, and watching her sing with the praise band at my in-laws church, her solos on Christmas Eve, and her emerging instrumental talent (with her clarinet at school, and now with the potential on guitar), I'm trying to encourage her, looking ahead to middle school and her involvement in the youth program.  Perhaps that's where my future lies.  Youth ministry was always one of my strengths.  We'll see.

In the meantime, I enjoyed the Men's Breakfast on Saturday morning.  It was great to reconnect with my friend Rick (check out his blog:  Mr. Garner Goes To Washington), and finally meeting Bob after much too long (check out his blog, too:  Pastor Bob Tousey).  I enjoyed hearing Fred, one of the men of Grace, share his heart and his family, especially his two wonderful sons.  It was really kind of Pastor Tim to ask about me and my girl before the church service last night, and Pastor Ryan Richardson had a great message (if not a messy'd have to be there).  And, wow, that wonderful music from the praise team which, at one point, caused me to get emotional.  It was a wonderful weekend at Grace.

Thank you, Lord, for your direction and presence in my life, and in my church community...

Have a great evening, everyone!

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